Blackbird Revue (Shepherd's Tent)

Jacob Prestidge 

Blackbird Revue
(Shepherd's Tent)

A minute or so into Blackbird Revue, Jacob Prestidge coos about a hummingbird while gently fingerpicking his acoustic guitar, suggesting he's another sensitive singer-songwriter with a precious voice and a nature fetish. But "Hummingbird" turns out to be an inventively spun yarn about a suicide survivor, with cheery ba-ba-ba vocals greeting his awakening from a two-year coma. Kansas City's Prestidge recalls hyper-literate lyricists such as Okkervil River's Will Sheff and the Decemberists' Colin Meloy, particularly in his use of loosely linked narratives (trains, blackbirds and sickles recur) and old English (open thy lattice to me). Also like Sheff and Meloy, Prestidge conducts a sizable folk-rock orchestra. He uses his string section to dramatic effect during "The Death of Stephen Foster," a powerfully sung, poignant track with a morbidly graceful coda that sounds like a Sicilian funeral. Prestidge doesn't yet trust his subtle touches: A line in which a woman discovers her lover's fate by guiding her delicate fingers o'er the Braille would qualify as a clever revealing of the protagonist's blindness if the song weren't titled "She Walks Blindly." But he's an articulate poet with an ear for symphonic melodies, a genuine talent ready to take wing.

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